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Did You Know that June Is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month?

As summer has gotten into full swing, we should all take a moment to remember that June is HIV/AIDS Awareness Month. This virus has had quite a destructive impact in just over three decades, and it continues to affect the lives of millions around the globe. That’s why we’re asking our readers to consider getting involved in awareness efforts in their own communities this summer.

Man and woman help raise awareness for HIV and AIDsHealthcare experts estimate that nearly 2 million Americans have contracted HIV since the first reported cases in 1981 (this includes more than 650,000 who’ve been killed by the virus). Today, there are more than a million Americans living with the HIV virus, and just about 1 in every 6 are unaware of their infection. The number of people infected in the U.S. only represents a small portion of the impact this virus has had on a global scale.

We strongly believe that patients’ access to clinical trials in this country have helped healthcare experts develop better treatment strategies for keeping AIDS patients alive.

(We recommend checking out this enlightening infographic about HIV/AIDS Awareness Month if you get a chance.)

The Impact of HIV in the United States

  • More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with an HIV infection.
  • About 50,000 people contract HIV each year.
  • Gay and bisexual men run the highest risk of contracting HIV.
  • Nearly 1 in 6 people with HIV are unaware of their infection.
  • In the past decade, the number of living HIV patients has grown while annual infection rates have remained steady.

The Global Impact of HIV/AIDS

  • At least 33.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world.
  • More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981.
  • An estimated 2 million people die from AIDS each year.
  • Just about 2.7 million people contract the virus each year.
  • 97 percent of HIV-positive cases are reported in low and middle income countries.
  • Most high risk communities around the world don’t have access to proper HIV/AIDS treatment or prevention services.

Could You Further Explain HIV/AIDS

Global Impact of HIV/AIDSPeople who have contracted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have it for life, since our immune systems can’t seem to rid the body of it like other viruses. As the infection progresses, the patient’s immune system is irreparably damaged. The body soon becomes prey to various opportunistic infections (ones that healthy people never have to worry about) and their CD4 cells numbers plummet.

This is the point at which a patient is classified as having developed Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This represents the final, deadly stage of an HIV infection. AIDS patients require complex treatments in order to stay alive.

How Do You Contract HIV/AIDS?

HIV lives in the various fluids of the body, such as:

  • Blood
  • Breast milk
  • Semen
  • Pre-Seminal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Anal mucous

Lower levels of the virus can also be found in:

  • Sweat
  • Saliva
  • Tears
  • Feces
  • Mucous
  • Urine
  • Vomit

(These levels are highly unlikely to cause infection unless mixed with contaminated blood.)

People can contract HIV via:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Childbirth
  • Sharing unsanitized needles
  • Blood transfusions or organ transplants
  • Some healthcare providers are exposed to the virus on the job

What Are the Symptoms of AIDS

What are the Symptoms of AIDSSimilar to HCV infections, people who’ve contracted HIV often don’t experience many tell-tale symptoms until their infection has progressed to the final stages. AIDS patients often exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Frequent fevers
  • Unexplained and often rapid weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic levels of fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
  • Red, pink or purplish spots manifesting under the skin, on the eyelids or in the mouth
  • Sores manifesting on the anus, genitals or mouth

Getting tested for HIV is strongly recommended for people who are sexually active with more than one partner or otherwise at risk for HIV. If you’ve never been tested for the virus before, then we recommend setting up an appointment for this HIV/AIDS Awareness Month. You don’t want to be one of the 15.8% who are unaware of their infection. For more information, you should check out AIDS.gov.

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